What a week! There's an internet meme floating about right now that says, "Anyone else feel like life it being written by a 4th grader right now? And there was this virus and everyone was scared. And then the world ran out of toilet paper. And then there was no school for like a month. And then it snowed!" As a retired teacher/principal - several years of 4th grade - I do think that this is what has happened!
Well, there's no snow here in Abbotsford but we did have a significant wind storm with temperatures at or just below freezing. We even saw, if you can believe it, icicles. Today, however, the weather is awesome and that is Emmett's coat casually tossed on the back of the power chair. The meme writer, and I cannot confirm the source so if you know please let me know and I'll give credit, hit it right on. But we're going to add to it. How about fit in we demolished our bathroom! Because last Wednesday the long awaited accessible bathroom renovations began at Emmett's house. So not only is there no toilet paper, but there's no bathroom either! As a result, there was a planned move to grandma and grandpa's house. And that is when the North American Covid 19 virus awareness began in full force. As a result, this giant sleepover at grandma's house became a giant sleepover at grandma's house.
That's right. No change. You see, for Emmett every day is a virus scare. He literally hasn't noticed anything different. He is five, of course, and that makes it easier than if he were fifteen. But Emmett's daily life is one of social distancing and avoiding crowds. During this cold and flu season, Emmett was able to get out more than previous years but his parents still were very cautious about events he attended. Visits include direct investigation of potential sources of illness. Visitors - absolutely screened for illness. Wash hands and apply sanitizer upon arrival. You've read here before, if you sneeze Emmett will not say "Bless you" but he will say "Sanitize"! Self-Isolation doesn't mean we cannot get outside - as we are absolutely taking advantage of the awesome weather - as you can see in some of these photos - to enjoy the outdoors and local forest trails. Isolation does mean that play dates and having anyone else in his immediate circle is simply not happening.
So Emmett hasn't noticed the self-imposed isolation. We managed to slide past the missed birthday party (the rest of us missed the crowd of police cars and the friends and the BBQ) by playing with his Air Swimmer (named Shark-Kaaah; and don't say it wrong or you will be corrected) and his birthday presents, which included a remote controlled dump truck to accompany his excavator Christmas Present (just wait until his Easter present - which is a new thing but it was a super Black Friday sale and I couldn't resist). The Air Swimmer wasn't a birthday present but a sleepover present. It is a great distraction and, even better, Emmett isn't afraid of it. You may recall that 2 or 3 years ago he had another air swimmer - a clown fish. He loved that fish from a distance, but it was just too large and terrifying up close. At first there was hesitation but we built it together (and yes, you have to build an air swimmer and it takes a long time) and he loves it. We have to force Emmett to leave the fun and games inside to explore the outdoors: we get to go on walks now that the weather has warmed up and in the evening we play games like Zinga. A good round of Uno has to happen soon too.
Meanwhile, work continues on the bathroom. The floor joists have been strengthened and modified to accept the roll in shower. The plumbing and electrical rough in work has been completed. The flooring is going down today and the drywall is starting tomorrow. So right now this is moving ahead as planned. Hopefully it is a pace that can be continued. Josh - loaded up with face masks, sanitizer, and with full social distancing in effect - is interacting with the workers to ensure that any of their questions are answered. Even though Emmett isn't there, the contractors have been asked to wash hands and sanitize on a regular basis throughout the day. Keeping a medically fragile youngster healthy is an every day, long term project.
For us adults, this self-isolation and the Covid-19 virus has put us all into hyper-vigilant germ avoidance mode. Our hands are raw from hand washing and sanitizing. There's no going out to any public venues - except to Emmett's house in the evening to check on progress and grab more supplies. Good thing that there are some lovely walking areas right in our neighbourhood, like the forest walk pics you see above. Panic set in when some of Emmett's supplies were not delivered on time. Hours were spent on the phone getting everything sorted out and a huge sigh of relief was heard from Alisha when she heard that the courier had dropped everything off. While Grandma Pam almost always has a great supply of stuff in her fridge and pantry (and don't even get me started on toilet paper - it's like Pam has been in training for this pandemic for decades. Now I'm not going to be able to tease her about it as it has certainly paid off!). Huge thanks to Grandma Rhonda and Grandpa Roger who are acting as our personal shoppers. Unfortunately, with this isolation they are not able to visit. Porch drop-offs and FaceTime right now. And while paper towels may not be the most environmentally friendly, they are a necessity to limit germ spread from hand towels.
So things haven't changed and yet they have. It was just two weeks ago that Emmett was getting his lumbar puncture. The procedure didn't go as efficiently as most previous ones. As a result Emmett had a tender back for a few days afterwards. Part way through the specialists moved him from the procedure room to the OR so that they could put him to sleep. And Emmett is literally amazed that, in the middle of the day, he was awake and then he fell asleep and then he was awake. Even better, everything was done. Emmett told his mom and dad that he much preferred going to sleep to have the lumbar puncture - and that is what his medical team is going to do from now on! While this may not be far from Emmett's regular normal, that the rest of the world is now moving towards our lifestyle is shocking. Going for walks and wanting everyone to remember social distancing. Normal is now abnormal, I guess.
Now for a typical day with Emmett while in self-imposed isolation. Alisha and Josh made the tough decision to cancel their night nursing support, this was a tough decision as some of their nurses have been with them for four years. However, the risk that they could bring a virus into contact with Emmett is just too great. As a result, Alisha and Josh are monitoring Emmett overnight. Night includes ensuring the bi-pap is on, functioning within proper specifications, and that the mask hasn't been jarred out of position causing an air leak. Hi oximeter monitors his oxygen levels and his heart beat. The suction machine (which temporarily was malfunctioning but now seems to be working again; plus there is a back-up machine) is never far from Emmett. While he is practicing swallowing, this suction machine is still used daily; there are still some significant episodes where our hearts are given a workout. Then Grandparents took over in the morning while Alisha went to get an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. Emmett woke up in a great mood and began the morning telling stories. He would tell one and then get us to tell as story. And this went back and forth for at least 45 minutes - the stories were hilarious. Next Emmett and I repaired the drawers in the bureau that is being used for his clothes. Emmett thought that the screws were very sharp. Then we went upstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, Emmett went into his standing frame and played fishing with Paddington cat. Of course, grandpa got a bunch of sharks and they surrounded Paddington Cat and eventually they tipped Paddington's boat. Emmett switched to his manual wheel chair and then he played with his mommy. It was a really cool Owl present that he got from Felicity, Brendan, and Aiden. He loved creating an awesome owl, read an owl story, and played with little owls for the rest of the day. (The little owls are Billy, Percy, and Sarah.) He also watched the Cincinnati Zoo live presentation of the Brazilian Porcupine (yesterday he watched his favourite, Fiona the Hippo). Then we had lunch and Emmett helped grandma by stirring batter for banana bread. And chocolate chip cookies. Emmett loved the aroma of the fresh baked cookies. And grandpa loved eating them. Then Emmett and mommy went outside and lay on a blanket in the sun in the back yard while reading stories. It was about 15 Celcius - so perfect outside weather. Then Emmett had his quiet time. This is time for bi-pap and Emmett played with his Toy Story characters plus Billy, Percy, and Sarah (his new owls). Emmett hasn't had afternoon sleeps for months - but quiet time is still an important aspect of his day (for his mommy's sanity too!). After quiet time Emmett came out to help grandpa work on his race car. Yesterday we put on a rear wing - which Emmett thought was really funny. He wondered if it would make the car fly, but now realizes that it pushes the back of the car down. Today we put on the front splitter and air dam. This also pushes the car down - so you can go faster through corners. Emmett asked questions non-stop about everything. Literally. Then we went on a walk to grandma's forest (which really isn't grandma's but we call it that anyhow). We walked to the bridge in the forest and then turned around and came back. Then Emmett helped me remember today's events for the blog when he heard his daddy coming back from the bathroom project. He and his daddy talked all about what happened at the bathroom - including getting the new bathtub installed. Then it was just chatting time, stretching time, story time, and bed time. No games tonight - that will happen tomorrow.
And that is a brief overview of Emmett's day in isolation.